Portable heater likely cause of fatal house fire

Chestnut Avenue Bradwell where a man sadly died in a house fire

Neighbours watched on in horror as emergency services pulled a man from his burning home and tried to revive him on his drive. He was pronounced dead the following day. - Credit: Liz Coates

A retired electrician died in a house fire which was probably caused by a portable heater, an inquest has heard.

Joseph Ash, 77, died from a combination of smoke inhalation and existing chronic health conditions after fire broke out in his bungalow in Chestnut Avenue, Bradwell, on July 9, 2021.

Chestnut Avenue Bradwell house fire

Neighbours say the speed at which the fire took hold should act as a warning to everyone. - Credit: Liz Coates

The inquest heard he had been asleep on the sofa when the fire started, the portable heater that was always on being the likely cause.

After an heroic attempt to save him by neighbour Glenn Turner he was brought out of the building by fire crews and successfully resuscitated.

However, his condition worsened and he died in the James Paget University Hospital the following day.

Coroner Jaqueline Lake said his death was accidental after hearing the evidence on Wednesday, January 12.

House fire in Bradwell

Police at the scene of the blaze in Chestnut Avenue, Bradwell, in July 2021. - Credit: Mick Howes

The court heard Mr Ash suffered from ill health including ulcerated legs, diabetes, and heart disease.

He liked to keep the living room very warm with two heaters which were constantly on, one of which his daughter feared was faulty although it was not pinpointed as the source of the blaze.

Chestnut Avenue house fire Bradwell

Flowers on the drive in Chestnut Avenue where Joseph Ash died in a fire. - Credit: Liz Coates

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His curtains were open at all times and a dog walker reported seeing him asleep with the TV on at around 10.30pm.

The court also heard written evidence from Glenn Turner who described how he had arrived home from a stag party to an "acrid" smell of smoke.

His statement told how he tried multiple times to rescue Mr Ash taking a gulp of air before entering the smoke-filled bungalow where he could hear his neighbour inside.

He and another neighbour Jason went on rescue a 92-year-old man from the bungalow next door.

Post mortem results showed Mr Ash had superficial burns to his legs and there was evidence he had suffered smoke inhalation which combined with his pre-existing conditions to take his life.

The fire investigators report revealed Mr Ash had likely been aware of the blaze as he was found in the hall, possibly trying to make his escape before he was overcome.

The coroner offered her condolences to the family and hailed the bravery of Mr Turner who was handed an award by the fire service.

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